August 4, 2018, five years ago today: We covered this subject back in February on the five-year anniversary of Jerry Kramer’s election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Let’s do it again, and celebrate the real thing, as Kramer steps up to the podium at his induction ceremony in Canton, OH. At long last, Kramer was known for more than one of the most famous blocks in NFL history, the one that got Bart Starr into the end zone to win the legendary Ice Bowl in Green Bay against Dallas in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. On third-and-goal from inside the Cowboys’ one-yard line with 16 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Kramer opened the hole on the “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field,” where the temperature at kickoff was 13 below with a wind chill of 36 below.
The ceremony put closure on decades of frustration for the Idaho native. Kramer had been named to the NFL’s 50th Anniversary team, the All-Decade Team of the 1960s and the Super Bowl Anniversary Team. But he had been a Hall of Fame finalist 10 times over 45 years and had never been voted into the Hall. He was the 13th—and probably the last—of Vince Lombardi-era Packers to be enshrined in Canton.
Kramer, who grew up in Sandpoint, was a star guard and kicker at Idaho before an 11-year NFL career as a Packer from 1958-68. He was a 6-3, 245-pound guard at a time when that was a stout weight for an NFL lineman. He was a five-time All-Pro and was part of five NFL championships, including victories in the first two Super Bowls under Lombardi. Kramer was also the Packers’ kicker for three seasons. He won one of those titles with his foot, kicking three field goals and an extra point in Green Bay’s 16-7 win over the New York Giants in the 1962 NFL Championship Game.
Sharing the stage with Kramer as he unveiled his bust was his daughter, Alicia, who campaigned relentlessly on her dad’s behalf and wouldn’t let the quest die, even when Kramer wondered if it was worth it. You may remember this from my February feature. He had the final say on who would give his induction speech. “I think it should be given by the person who busted her ass the most to make this happen,” said Kramer, referring to Alicia. According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, “Kramer goes through the room person by person asking if it should be Alicia. Each yes is more emphatic than the last.”
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)